Local Bus Services in Scotland – Improving the Framework for Delivery

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Closes 5 Dec 2017

Partnership Questions

1. Do you think that legislation (either via the existing sQP model or another) is required to secure the benefits of partnership working?

2. Do you feel that statutory Quality Partnerships as defined in the Transport (Scotland) Act 2001 provide the right framework for partnership working?

3. Do you agree with our proposals for Service Improvement Partnerships as outlined in pages 32-35?

Our Proposal: ‘Service Improvement Partnership’

Our Proposal: ‘Service Improvement Partnership’

5.25. In developing proposals for a new statutory partnership approach we have taken account, where relevant for Scottish interests, of the Bus Services Act 2017 and in particular its ‘enhanced Quality Partnership’ proposition.

5.26. Our proposals differ from the existing sQPs in three ways. Firstly they would not require the transport authority to invest in infrastructure (investment could be included, but instead the transport authority could implement policies on parking, for example). Secondly, we would extend the range of standards beyond that allowed in the sQP, including being able to agree frequencies on certain routes and/or setting maximum fare levels. Thirdly, and most fundamentally, we propose to encourage the development of a genuine partnership approach through joint working from the start and then throughout the partnership.

5.27. The new ‘Service Improvement Partnership’ (SIP) would be based on a joint review of the local bus service network. This would be conducted by the transport authority and those operators whose bus services run through the proposed area. It would focus on the bus network in the local area and require a joint analysis of the network to establish if it is delivering and meeting local needs.

5.28. The initial analysis, or ‘Improvement Plan’ would:

  • Specify the area and period of the Plan
  • Set out an analysis of local services provided
  • Set out policies relating to local services
  • Set out objectives regarding the quality and effectiveness of local services
  • Describe how the related Improvement Scheme is intended to assist in implementing those policies and achieving these objectives
  • Describe the intended effect of related improvement schemes on neighbouring schemes.

5.29. Following the analysis, the transport authority and operators would work together to identify what needs to change in the network to meet local needs and how these changes might be incorporated into an ‘Improvement Scheme’.

5.30. An Improvement Scheme would:

  • Specify the area to which the scheme relates
  • Impose requirements in relation to local services that have one or more stopping places in that area by specifying them in the scheme.

5.31. An Improvement Scheme may also:

  • Require the authority to provide particular facilities in the area to which the scheme relates
  • Require the authority to take particular measures in relation to routes in the whole or part of that that are served, or might be served by local services, and
  • Include provision about its variation or revocation

5.32. An Improvement Scheme could only be made if the transport authority is satisfied that the scheme will:

  • Contribute to the implementation of the policies set out in the Improvement Plan; or
  • Bring benefits to persons using local services in the area by improving quality or effectiveness of services; or
  • Reduce or limit traffic congestion, noise or air pollution.

5.33. Under this proposal the transport authority would have powers to request information from bus operators to assist in developing the plan and scheme and for monitoring and reviewing them once implemented.

5.34. The Improvement Scheme could include whatever combination of actions the transport authority considers appropriate having involved bus operators in its development. One Scheme could include only ticketing standards, another branding and vehicle requirements, a third a much wider set of actions.

Voting Mechanism and Consultation

5.35. Once the Plan and the Scheme and are drafted, the bus operators who operate services in the proposed area would be able to express a view. There would be a voting mechanism to determine how many operators with what extent of the network are required for an Improvement Scheme to be able to be made. If there were sufficient support then the transport authority would initiate a consultation exercise.

5.36. Consultation would be the responsibility of the transport authority and would ensure that passengers views are at the heart of the partnership. Consultees could include: all affected operators, bus passengers and passenger representatives, the CMA and other transport authorities.

5.37. Following consultation, the final version of the Improvement Plan and Improvement Scheme would need to be formally ‘made’ by the transport authority. Before that happens affected operators would be given a further chance to express a view. Without sufficient support from operators the plan or scheme could not be made.

5.38. We feel this would deliver specific actions in partnership linked to a clear analysis and shared understanding of the local bus network. This should lead to improved bus service quality and enable increased local use of the network.

5.39. It will be important to ensure that the new partnership system is not overly bureaucratic, noting the limits of transport authority resource. We intend to work with stakeholders on that point going forwards.

Bus Registration/Traffic Commissioner

5.40. Improvement Schemes could direct changes to bus services by creating, varying or cancelling bus services with the agreement of operator to deliver the policies set out in the Improvement Plan. This would require changes of powers to enable the Traffic Commissioner to be able to put these alterations into effect.

Transition to Service Improvement Partnership

5.41. It is proposed that current sQPs would continue until they are time expired. At that time the transport authority with partners would decide whether they should move to develop, or have developed ready for implementing, a SIP.

4. If a new form of statutory Partnership is introduced, do you agree that statutory Quality Partnerships as defined in the Transport (Scotland) Act 2001 should be replaced (i.e. they would no longer be available as a tool for LTAs)?